We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; and that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be established on the American Continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
In the last Article of Faith, the Prophet explained that we believe in modern revelation. The 10th Article of Faith is a natural extension of the 9th. It follows if God is not done speaking to men, then He is not done working with them either. It's the converse of Amos statement, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." (Amos 3:7) It makes sense that if God still speaks to his servants the prophets, then he has more to do on their behalf. God is not done speaking; God is not done working.
In accordance with Bible prophecy, there are many things which must yet transpire. Every jot and tittle of the scriptures must be fulfilled. That includes all of Jeremiah's prophecies about the gathering of Israel. That includes all of Isaiah's prophecies regarding the glory of Christ's reign in the Millennium. That includes all of Ezekiel's prophecies about Temple work in the Millennium and the battle of Gog and Magog. The 10th Article of Faith reinforces our very literal belief in Old Testament prophecies. We expect them to be fulfilled completely and precisely.
Bruce R. McConkie
These things of which we speak are part of a great plan and program of the Lord. He has known the end from the beginning. He has ordained and established the system which is now in operation. He has scattered his chosen people in all the nations of the earth. And now through his goodness and grace in this, our day, by the opening of the heavens, by the ministry of holy angels sent from his presence, by his own voice speaking from heaven, by the pouring out of the Holy Ghost-by all these means-he has once again restored the fulness of his everlasting gospel. He has called us out of darkness into the marvelous light of Christ. He has commanded us to build up Zion anew. He has commanded us to overcome the world. He has commanded us to forsake every evil thing. He has made us his agents and representatives. He has commissioned us to go out and find the lost sheep of Israel. He wants us to invite them to gather with the true Church and with the Saints of God.
This is a work of great magnitude and importance. There is no work like it in all the world. The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest thing in heaven or on earth. (Ensign, May 1977, 118)
We believe in the literal gathering of Israel
We believe in the literal (physical) gathering of Israel. God said to Jacob, "the land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land" (Gen. 35:12). We believe that God is not done fulfilling this promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We believe that their descendants will yet inhabit all the lands promised to them of the Lord, for Jacob was promised that his seed would inherit it "for an everlasting possession" (Gen. 48:4, see also Gen. 17:8).
By the term, literal gathering of Israel, we mean the physical translocation of the descendants of Jacob to the lands of their inheritance. We believe there will be two central gathering places, the old Jerusalem and the New Jerusalem. Before the Second Coming, the literal gathering will recommence, "Go ye forth unto the land of Zion... Let them, therefore, who are among the Gentiles flee unto Zion. And let them who be of Judah flee unto Jerusalem, unto the mountains of the Lord's house." (D&C 133:9-13) The remnant of the house of Joseph will be gathered to the New Jerusalem (Ether 13:8), and the house of Judah will be gathered to the Old Jerusalem.
The days come, saith the Lord, that... I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers. Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks." (Jer. 16:14-16)
And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed... Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely." (Jer. 23:3-6)
I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion; And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding... In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers." (Jer. 3:14-18)
If you believe the Bible is the word of God, then you should believe that Israel still must be gathered. The literal gathering has commenced but much more must take place. The Lord is sending out his fishers and hunters in the form of missionaries who are declaring the gospel truths about these ancient prophecies. The Lord is bringing them, one by one, and setting up shepherds over them, but they are not yet safe. Israel is one of the most hated nations in all the world. This will not last; the Lord will make sure that they have nothing to fear nor have any reason to be dismayed. Isaiah said, "For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land... and they shall rule over their oppressors. And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear" (Isa. 14:1-3)
Just as we believe in the literal (physical) gathering of Israel, we also believe in the figurative (spiritual) gathering of Israel. To be spiritually gathered means to be converted to the kingdom of God. For those of Gentile lineage, it means to join the House of Israel by adoption through the ordinance of baptism. In the early days of the Church, the physical and spiritual gatherings went together. Whenever a convert was made, they were asked to gather to Zion. Thus, they were gathered both physically and spiritually. Starting in the 1890's, saints were no longer required to immigrate to America, but to build up Zion in their own countries. For now, Zion is where the saints are gathered, where the pure in heart worship.
Spencer W. Kimball
Now, the gathering of Israel consists of joining the true church and their coming to a knowledge of the true God. Any person, therefore, who has accepted the restored gospel, and who now seeks to worship the Lord in his own tongue and with the Saints in the nations where he lives, has complied with the law of the gathering of Israel and is heir to all of the blessings promised the Saints in these last days. (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 439)
Spencer W. Kimball
The gathering of Israel is now in progress. Hundreds of thousands of people have been baptized into the Church. Millions more will join the Church. And this is the way we will gather Israel. It is to be done by missionary work. (New Era, May 1981, p. 46)
We believe... in the restoration of the Ten Tribes
Part of the literal gathering of Israel includes the restoration of the Ten Tribes. The gathering must involve more than just the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, the "'lost" ten tribes must be restored to the lands of their inheritance. After King Solomon, the 12 tribes divided into the kingdom of Judah (comprised of Judah and Benjamin) and the kingdom of Israel (comprised of the other 10 tribes). The kingdom of Israel, also called the kingdom of Ephraim, was taken captive by the Assyrians around 720 AD (2 Kings 17). The ten tribes were taken north and "lost" to religious historians. Jeremiah prophesied of the restoration of the Ten Tribes as follows, "For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the LORD our God... Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither." (Jer. 31:6, 8) "The Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people... And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel... There shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt" (Isa. 11:11-16).
At the time the Ten Tribes are restored, they will have their own prophets, "And they who are in the north countries shall come in remembrance before the Lord; and their prophets shall hear his voice, and shall no longer stay themselves; and they shall smite the rocks, and the ice shall flow down at their presence. And an highway shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep." (D&C 133:26-27). When the Ten Tribes return, they will bring their own scriptures, "I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it... and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel" (2 Ne. 29:12-13) But they will not have their own temple work. They will have to receive temple ordinances at the hands of the Latter-day Saints, "And they shall bring forth their rich treasures unto the children of Ephraim, my servants. And the boundaries of the everlasting hills shall tremble at their presence. And there shall they fall down and be crowned with glory, even in Zion, by the hands of the servants of the Lord, even the children of Ephraim." (D&C 133:30-32)
Joseph Fielding Smith
The Ten Tribes were taken by force out of the land the Lord gave to them. Many of them mixed with the peoples among whom they were scattered. A large portion, however, departed in one body into the north and disappeared from the rest of the world. Where they went and where they are, we do not know. That they are intact we must believe, else how shall the scriptures be fulfilled? There are too many prophecies concerning them and their return in a body for us to ignore the fact. (The Way to Perfection, 130)
George Q. Cannon
It is written that the ten tribes will come forth from the north country, and they will come here to those who hold the keys in this dispensation, to receive the blessings they do not have themselves. Here is Ephraim, and Ephraim holds the keys. The ten tribes are there, but the authority to hold the keys is here. God is doing a mighty work among the nations of the earth, unknown to us to a great extent. Powerful agencies are operating under His direction in all the nations, to bring to pass the fulfillment of His designs... and here are the keys by which the purposes of God will be fulfilled. All that has been spoken by the mouths of the holy Prophets will be accomplished. There will be a highway cast up; the ten tribes will return, and they will come to the children of Ephraim to receive their blessings. (Conference Report, October 1897, Afternoon Session)
That Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be established on the American Continent
All the doctrines taught in the Articles of Faith up to this point have been Biblical. The Bible alone is enough for a missionary to defend every doctrine previously discussed. But not now. To say that Zion is going to be on the American Continent is exclusively Mormon doctrine. In the Bible, the center of the universe is Jerusalem. Modern revelation and the Book of Mormon tell us that God's work includes both hemispheres.
Rather than assume that Zion is a synonym for Jerusalem in every Old Testament prophecy, we believe that there are two great capitals in the Millennium, Jerusalem of the Old World and Zion of the New World. This is an earth shattering view of ancient prophecy. "Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" is no longer poetic dualism, but powerful prophecy of an American religious capital (Isa. 2:3).
Some have called Mormonism an American Religion. While we believe the gospel is for the world, it is true that we have some interesting claims about America. We believe the Garden of Eden was in the Americas. We believe the city of Enoch was in the Americas. We believe that Noah built his ark in the Americas. We believe that Columbus was inspired to discover the Americas. We believe the pilgrims were inspired by God to come to America. We believe that the constitution of the United States is an inspired document. We also believe in an "American" bible-the Book of Mormon, which teaches that in the Millennium, Jerusalem and Zion are different cities.
Appropriately, the doctrine comes from ancient American prophets. Ether prophesied that the New Jerusalem would be in the Americas:
Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land. (Ether 13:2-3)
The exact location of the city was revealed to Joseph Smith. Surprisingly, "Missouri... is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion... Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place" (D&C 57:1-3). Revealed in 1831, the early saints were thrilled to learn of an American Zion. They tried to establish it according to the Lord's pattern but failed and were driven out of Missouri. The establishment of Zion in the land of Missouri is still firmly believed and expected by Latter-day Saints. We believe that the city and its temple will be built with grandeur and significance to rival ancient Jerusalem. That is quite a claim!
Mark E. Petersen
So in the Lord's own time the city will yet rise in its glory. In the Lord's own time his temple will yet be erected. A new generation will be allowed to carry on instead of those who began it, but who, "because of transgression," were not permitted to continue it. Transgressors cannot build the city of Zion nor its temple, for "Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself." (D&C 105:5. Italics added.)
But Jackson County-in the United States-is still the place for it, and its development will be a part of the future destiny of America.
In writing to N. E. Seaton, a publisher in Rochester, New York, on January 4, 1833, the Prophet Joseph said:
The city of Zion spoken of by David, in the one hundred and second Psalm, will be built upon the land of America. "And the ransomed shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads" (Isaiah xxxv: 10); and then they will be delivered from the overflowing scourge that shall pass through the land. But Judah shall obtain deliverance at Jerusalem... (History of the Church, 1:315. Italics added.)
(Mark E. Petersen,The Great Prologue [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1975], 110)
That Christ will reign personally upon the earth;
We believe that Christ will come again to the earth. Unlike his First Advent, we believe that Christ will not tolerate wickedness when He comes again. Instead, He will destroy the wicked and banish Satan for a thousand years. We believe that he will rule and reign in righteousness as the literal King of the whole earth. The lamb shall lie down with the lion, and the people shall not learn war anymore, but shall beat their swords into plowshares. Peace shall reign, and Christ shall rule from Jerusalem and Zion.
The prophets have all looked forward to this Millennial bliss. Enoch asked, "When shall the earth rest?... And it came to pass that Enoch saw the day of the coming of the Son of Man, in the last days, to dwell on the earth in righteousness for the space of a thousand years" (Moses 7:58, 65). John saw that the righteous "lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years" (Rev. 20:4). Joel said, "The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem... So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy" (Joel 3:16-17). "And the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David" (Isa. 9:6-7). "And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts" (Zech. 14:16).
[The Millennium] is the only thing that can bring about the "restitution of all things spoken of by all the holy Prophets since the world was"-"the dispensation of the fullness of times, when God shall gather together all things in one." Other attempts to promote universal peace and happiness in the human family have proved abortive; every effort has failed; every plan and design has fallen to the ground; it needs the wisdom of God, the intelligence of God, and the power of God to accomplish this. The world has had a fair trial for six thousand years; the Lord will try the seventh thousand Himself." (History of the Church, 7 Vols. 5:64-65)
And, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory
What will the earth be like during the Millennium? It will be paradise. It will be like the Garden of Eden. We believe that the earth's history includes three different glories. The least of these, the telestial, is characterized by both the beautiful and the barren including drought, famine, weeds, briars, and thorns. During the Millennium, the wickedness and corruption of the telestial will be cleansed from the earth in preparation for a higher glory, the terrestrial. This renewal will bring water to the deserts, crops to the soil, fruit to the trees, and grapes to the vine. "And in the barren deserts there shall come forth pools of living water; and the parched ground shall no longer be a thirsty land" (D&C 133:29).
Also called paradisiacal, this glory harkens back to the Garden of Eden, when the lamb was safe with the lion, when the earth produced fruits and flowers spontaneously. Just think how fun it will be to tickle tigers, swim with sharks, and wrestle the alligators! All enmity will be gone from the animal kingdom, "the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp (or viper), and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den" (Isa. 11:7-8).
During this time, there will be two cities that must live by a celestial law in a terrestrial world. (This shouldn't be any more difficult than living a celestial law in a telestial world.) For "Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself" (D&C 105:5).
Sterling W. Sill
At the time of Adam's fall, a curse was placed upon the earth, and since then it has existed in its fallen or telestial state. For nearly six thousand years it has brought forth thorns, thistles, and noxious weeds, while crime, corruption, war, and sin have flourished upon its face. But at the second coming of Christ, the earth will be cleansed by fire. It will then be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory as it is raised to the status of a terrestrial sphere. (Conference Report, April 1966, First Day-Morning Meeting 20)
Bruce R. McConkie
At the Second Coming of our Lord, "the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory" (Tenth Article of Faith), that is, it will return again to the edenic state and millennial conditions will exist. Of this restoration Isaiah said: "For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody." (Ezek. 36:35.) (Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], 303)
Bruce R. McConkie
Then at the end of the millennium, plus the appointed little season, this planet will change again. Once more there shall be a new heaven and a new earth, but this time our globe will become a celestial sphere, and none shall remain on its surface unless they are living a celestial law. (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 3: 587)